Biden to Appoint First Native American Treasurer

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President Biden plans to appoint

Lynn Malerba

to be the treasurer of the U.S., selecting the first Native American to oversee the printing and minting of the nation’s currency.

With the appointment, the Treasury Department will also create a new Office of Tribal and Native affairs headed by Ms. Malerba, who is the chief of the Mohegan tribe. The new office will be focused on coordinating with tribes on programs across the Treasury, which includes the Internal Revenue Service.

Treasury Secretary

Janet Yellen

applauded the appointment during a visit Tuesday to the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, which the Treasury Department said is the first-ever trip by a Treasury secretary to a tribal nation. Ms. Malerba, whose appointment doesn’t require Senate confirmation, joined Ms. Yellen on the visit.

“I am honored and humbled by Secretary Yellen and the Biden administration’s commitment to ensuring that all voices are heard by Treasury as we work together to create an equitable and just society,” Ms. Malerba said. “It is especially important that our Native voices are respected.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Treasury has distributed billions of dollars in aid to Native American tribes, which grapple with high rates of poverty. Democrats approved $30 billion for tribes in last year’s $1.9 trillion rescue package, funds that have allowed tribes to build more housing and expand access to broadband internet, among other steps, according to the Treasury.

Treasury staffers working on a team that has helped disburse those funds will initially staff the new office. Ms. Yellen said she would ask Congress to make the new office permanent.

Ms. Yellen said that the new office would explore ways to allow tribes to take advantage of tax credits like the low-income housing credit. “These are communities with tremendous need and very low-income, inadequate infrastructure, they’ve taken an enormous hit from the pandemic,” she said.

Leading the new tribal and native affairs office will come in addition to Ms. Malerba’s standard duties as treasurer: overseeing the Mint, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the U.S. gold depository at Fort Knox. Ms. Malerba’s signature will appear on currency, and her appointment allows for Ms. Yellen’s signature to begin appearing on money. That process was frozen until a treasurer was appointed; former Treasury Secretary

Steven Mnuchin’s

signature is still the most recent to appear on U.S. currency.

Ms. Malerba is the first woman to lead the Mohegan tribe in its modern history. She previously worked as a registered nurse and served on Treasury’s tribal advisory committee.

Write to Andrew Duehren at [email protected]

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